After being hit by a solar storm, SpaceX’s newest fleet of satellites is sliding out of orbit.
According to a corporate update posted online Tuesday night, up to 40 of the 49 tiny satellites launched last week have either reentered the atmosphere and burned up or are on the approach of doing so.
Last Friday’s geomagnetic storm made the atmosphere denser, increasing the drag on the Starlink satellites and effectively dooming them, according to SpaceX.
Ground controllers attempted to salvage the small, flat-panel satellites by putting them into a state of hibernation and flying them in such a way that they would generate the least amount of drag. According to the business, the satellites were unable to awaken and climb to a higher, more stable orbit due to the strong air drag.
Nearly 2,000 Starlink satellites are still orbiting Earth, providing internet service to far-flung parts of the globe. They circumnavigate the globe at a height of around 340 miles (550 kilometers).